Radical changes need to be made to Maine’s economic structure if the state hopes to offer better jobs and attract more people. Maine currently ranks 44th economically—it’s not been attractive to investors or to potential workers.
Maine needs to be able to offer appealing career opportunities to the current generation of students who plan on entering the workforce after high school or college.
Consider for a moment the cost of living in Maine. Not too long ago, the median home value in the state was $355,000—not an unreasonable amount, but keep in mind that the median income in Maine is only $30,000. That leaves a lot of people priced out of homeownership.
Rent isn’t any cheaper. The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Maine is around $1,000, which is again manageable for some but not all. When you factor in other costs like food, transportation, and healthcare – all of which are higher in Maine – it’s no wonder so many Mainers are struggling to make ends meet.
If we want to improve the economy of our great state, we need to start by making it easier for people to afford to live here. That means creating and attracting more foundational jobs that offer higher wages and addressing the high cost of housing. Only then can we hope to attract more businesses and talented individuals to Maine.
But that’s only one piece of a much bigger puzzle. While Maine certainly needs to make some radical changes to its economy, it also needs to build toward sustaining those changes.
For starters, there needs to be a focused effort to make education more accessible to our youth. Currently, too many kids seek their fortune outside of the state. And understandably so.
Maine has seen significant job losses over the years. And with an economy that struggles to compete, it’s hard to get kids to stay here after high school.
What’s more, the manufacturing jobs that are in Maine require certain skills that aren’t taught in traditional colleges. As such, those who hope to work in those facilities need to seek out trade schools to learn the skills they need.
We also need to focus on creating more jobs in the state. Not just any jobs, but good jobs—jobs that offer livable wages and career growth potential.
Maine has long been known as a tourist state, and while that’s certainly a large part of our economy, it’s not enough. We need to attract businesses in other industries if we want to create sustainable change.
To do that, we need to make Maine an attractive place for businesses to locate. That means investing in infrastructure and offering tax breaks or other incentives. It also means having a skilled workforce that can fill the jobs these businesses will create.
All of this is easier said than done, but it’s imperative that we take action if we want to improve the economy of our state. We can no longer afford to sit idly by while other states move ahead. It’s time for Maine to step up and compete.
The Alliance for Maine is committed to making these changes happen. We know it won’t be easy, but we also know it’s necessary if we want Maine to prosper. We hope you’ll join us in this effort by signing up for our email newsletter.